Bestpass adds Oklahoma to complete national tolling coverage

From Transport Topics.

Bestpass Inc. announced that it now offers complete nationwide toll-management coverage for commercial fleets with the addition of services in Oklahoma.

“When we started processing tolls with the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority, we added the final piece necessary to deliver a truly national tolling solution and to cover 100% of all major U.S. toll roads,” Bestpass CEO John Andrews said in a statement.

Bestpass, which provides single-source toll payment and streamlined management services, processes more than $30 million in tolls each month, the company said.

With the new coverage, Bestpass customers in Oklahoma will receive a discount of about 5% over paying with cash as well as an additional volume discount of 5% per transponder for transponders with more than 20 trips in a given month.

Oklahoma has 606 miles of toll roads, second in the nation behind Florida’s 641 miles.

Last year, Bestpass added tolling coverage in Florida, Kansas and Texas.

George Sowl, fuel and credit manager at Halvor Lines Inc., said in a statement that drivers appreciate having a single service to cover all of their tolls.

This is a reminder that BestPass is a MTAC partner, and as such, MTAC members could save 20 percent or more on tolls by using Bestpass – and get a 5 percent discount on Bestpass service fees. Contact MTAC if you have questions about getting involved with BestPass.

Connecticut oversize & overweight permit fee increases

Effective July 1, 2016, Connecticut will increase the costs to obtain oversize and overweight permits. Legislation sponsored by Democratic leadership will raise the costs for individual permits from $23 to $30. It will also raise the cost of an “electronic transmittal fee” to electronically pay for the permits from $3 to $5.

Additionally, the bill increased the rates to obtain an annual permit from an annual fee of $7 to $9 per thousand pounds or fraction thereof for each such vehicle. The cost to obtain a permit for “any increment up to one year” was increased from 1/10 of the cost of an annual fee to $100 for each month or fraction thereof. Finally, the annual permit fee for any vehicle transporting an oversize indivisible load was increased from a minimum of $500 to $650.

MTAC opposed the bill because it is an increase in transportation fees, which was not supposed to happen until a Constitutional “lockbox” was adopted. Additionally, these fee increases do not come with any improved service to Connecticut businesses, such as automated permitting, or easing of restrictions regarding when and where oversize and overweight loads can be transported.

The bill was rejected by the Finance and Revenue Committee, which is co-chaired by Representative John Fonfara (D-Wethersfield) and Jeff Berger (D-Waterbury). However, in a special session after the regular session had adjourned, the bill was slipped into the budget bill, which legislative leaders said did not increase taxes or business fees.

DOT plans hearing on new I-95 ramps in Stratford

From the Connecticut Post.

The state Department of Transportation will hold a public hearing on the planned Exit 33 ramp project on I-95. The hearing will be held at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, June 16 at the Baldwin Center, 1000 West Broad St.

Construction is anticipated to begin in 2017 “based on the availability of funding.” DOT says. The estimated construction cost is approximately $22 million.

The DOT said in a release announcing the meeting, “the purpose of the project is to enhance access to I-95 and local roadways by providing a full interchange at Exit 33 on I-95 in Stratford. Currently, Exit 33 is a partial interchange consisting of a northbound off-ramp and a southbound on-ramp. It is proposed to construct a new northbound on-ramp and a new southbound off-ramp at this location. The new northbound on-ramp would begin at the Ferry Boulevard/U.S. Route 1 intersection on the south side of I-95 and the new southbound off-ramp would connect with Veterans Boulevard on the north side of I-95.”

Read the full article at the Connecticut Post website.

FMCSA sends drug & alcohol clearinghouse final rule to OMB

From Transport Topics.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) on May 20 forwarded to the White House Office of Management and Budget its final rule that would establish a national database of truck drivers who have failed or refused to take drug and alcohol tests, marking the final step in the approval process.

The proposed drug and alcohol clearinghouse rule, published in February 2014, would require motor carriers and other medical personnel to “report verified positive, adulterated and substituted drug test results, positive alcohol test results, test refusals, negative return-to-duty test results and information on follow-up testing.”

The proposed rule also called for employers to search the clearinghouse for positive drug and alcohol test results, and refusals to test, on an annual basis for current employees and as part of the pre-employment process for prospective employees.

Currently, employers must rely on information provided by the driver, “who might not disclose prior positive drug or alcohol test results, or refusals to test,” FMCSA said.

Truck Driving Championship participation increases

More than 30 drivers have enrolled in the upcoming Connecticut Truck Driving Championship set for June 11 at the Fedex Freight facility in Windsor Locks. However, it is not too late to sign up to compete. Specifically, the Flatbed and Straight Truck fields are wide open, so members should be sure to consider having their drivers sign up and compete (enroll by May 31 to avoid penalty). Drivers can sign up to register here, and will then have to complete a driver’s enrollment form and send it back to MTAC.

Reserve your tickets to the Awards Barbecue that starts around 4 p.m. Complete this online form, and MTAC will either invoice current members, or contact non-members so they can pay by credit card. Tickets will be held for pickup at the registration booth on the day of the event.

There are a couple of sponsorship opportunities still available for the Truck Driving Championship.

You can find all of the details about MTAC’s Truck Driving Championship online.

FedEx breaks ground in Middletown, 400 jobs expected

Construction will begin soon on a 525,000 square foot FedEx Ground distribution hub on Middle Street at the former site of the Aetna campus.

Local and state officials participated in a groundbreaking Thursday morning with FedEx Ground, which says it will create at least 400 jobs with the new center, scheduled to open in August 2018.

“This hub is part of a nationwide expansion,” said Alex Kapinos, manager of the Northeast region. “Just this fiscal year we have invested $1.6 billion in our network expansion. The number of packages that we pick up, transport and deliver every day has more than doubled in 10 years. We’re a growing company and we need people from right here in the community to help us continue to grow.”

See the full story from the Hartford Courant.

MTAC President Joe Sculley attended this event, along with MTAC Board member Helen Brooks from FedEx Corporation. MTAC is pleased that FedEx, a long-time MTAC member which supports the association in a myriad of ways, is making a major investment in Connecticut.

FedEx Breaks Ground in Middletown

CDL apprenticeship grant opportunity

MTAC recently met with senior Connecticut Department of Labor officials to discuss the availability of apprenticeship funds that could be used by the trucking industry. Specifically, funds are available that could be used towards the cost of tuition at a commercial driving school.

Department of Labor officials reported that as much as $3,500 is available and could be used to cover tuition at a commercial driving school for each student, as part of the apprenticeship program. In order to qualify for the grant, a student would have to be involved in an apprenticeship program comprised of a 2,000 hour (approximately one year) curriculum.

MTAC believes that a program like this could be a good way to attract qualified workers and help address the shortage of commercial truck drivers at the same time. MTAC would like to put together a working group to develop a curriculum for an apprenticeship program. Some other states have programs like this already underway, and their curriculums could be used as a baseline for what MTAC develops for a Connecticut apprenticeship program.

Please contact Joe Sculley if you would be willing to be involved in a working group to develop an apprenticeship curriculum.

Reminder: CVSA Roadcheck – Focus on Tires

As a reminder, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) Roadcheck with a focus on tires will be held in June. Do not operate trucks with tires that: have less than the minimum tread depth (minimum tread depth for steer tires is 4/32-inch, and 2/32-inch for any other wheel position); have body ply or belt material exposed through the tread or sidewall; have any tread or sidewall separation; are flat or have an audible leak; have a cut to the extent that the ply or belt material is exposed. June 7-9 is the industry’s opportunity to demonstrate safety and compliance to law enforcement officials.

The CVSA’s 29th annual International Roadcheck will take place June 7-9, 2016. International Roadcheck is a 72-hour period when approximately 10,000 CVSA-certified local, state, provincial, territorial and federal inspectors in jurisdictions across North America perform large truck and bus safety inspections.

International Roadcheck is the largest targeted enforcement program on commercial motor vehicles in the world, with nearly 17 trucks or buses inspected, on average, every minute in Canada, the United States and Mexico during a 72-hour period. During the annual three-day event, CVSA-certified inspectors conduct compliance, enforcement and educational initiatives targeted at various elements of motor carrier, vehicle and driver safety.

Each year, International Roadcheck places special emphasis on a category of violations. The special emphasis for 2016 International Roadcheck is tire safety (i.e., measuring the tire tread depth, checking the tire pressure, checking to make sure that no items are lodged between dual tires and examining the overall condition of the tire to make sure that no deep cuts or bulges exist in the sidewalls of the tire).

Additional information can be found at the CVSA’s website.

ATRI operational costs survey

The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) has issued a data call for the annual update to its Operational Costs of Trucking report. The brief online questionnaire seeks to capture basic cost information from for-hire motor carriers on items such as driver pay, fuel costs, insurance premiums and lease or purchase payments. Carriers are asked to provide full-year 2015 cost per mile and cost per hour data.

The results of this data collection, combined with the previous Operational Costs of Trucking reports, will yield eight full years (2008 – 2015) of trucking cost information derived directly from fleet operations. This research provides carriers with an important high-level benchmarking tool and government agencies with real world data for future infrastructure improvement analyses.

“ATRI’s annual Operational Costs of Trucking report is a key benchmark that we rely on to identify where we might improve our operating efficiency. Providing the information to ATRI is easy to do and I encourage my colleagues throughout the industry to participate in this vital data collection by ATRI,” said Sherri Garner Brumbaugh, president and CEO of Garner Transportation Group and a member of ATRI’s Research Advisory Committee.

For-hire motor carriers are encouraged to provide confidential operational cost data through ATRI’s survey by Friday, June 17, 2016. The results of this study will be available later this year. Click here to take the survey.

Truckers Against Trafficking training

MTAC partner Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) is encouraging member companies to undergo training that would help truckers identify human trafficking. Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) is a 501(c)3 that exists to educate, equip, empower and mobilize members of the trucking and travel plaza industry to combat domestic sex trafficking. TAT recognizes that members of the trucking industry and individual truckers are invaluable in the fight against the heinous crime of human trafficking. As the eyes and ears of our nation’s highways, truckers are in a unique position to make a difference and close loopholes to traffickers who seek to exploit our transportation system for their personal gain. Since TAT’s inception, 425 likely cases of human trafficking, involving 744 victims (249 minors) have been reported to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) hotline.

Several MTAC member companies have already completed TAT training. Members should be sure to visit the TAT website and consider contacting TAT about training. TAT asks that drivers, companies, or truck driving schools interested in receiving any of their material should contact them via email.